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Oxon U25’s: Four Counties Top 11 Cup

Oxfordshire Under 25s finished off their season in the Four Counties Top 11 competition at South Oxford on Sunday. The competition, based on the national Top Club, was played at South Oxford BC between Under 25s teams from Surrey, Buckinghamshire, replacing Berkshire, Middlesex and Oxfordshire. This is the third year that the event has been hosted by the Oxford club and once again proved to be popular amongst the players and supporters alike.

Surrey made it a hat trick of victories beating Bucks 3-2 in the final with Oxon, for the second year defeating Middx 4-1 in the third/fourth place play-off.

Featuring a few changes from last year’s team, the Oxon players were drawn against an ever strong Surrey team in the first game and can consider themselves unfortunate to lose 3-2. Jamie Wilkinson, a last minute switch to the 2 wood singles, played some fantastic stuff but the strength and experience of Charles Bruder proved too much for the Banbury Central player in his first ever two wood match so first blood to Surrey.

George Schwab got off to a good start in the four wood singles against Charlie Souter but when leading 16-13 dropped a four, three and a single to give Surrey a two point lead with three disciplines still playing. Captain Lee Wilkinson making his last appearance for the Under 25s due to age picked up where he left off last year in the fours.

With Brandon King, Bradley Squires and Orren Bennett Wilkinson cruised to a 28-6 win over Matt Hayes. Sam Muir, also in a junior shirt for the last time showed his experience and skill as he skipped his triple of Ben Dickson and Dan Swanson to a crucial win over England star Dan Morris to level things up at 2 all. This left the pairing of Sam Watts and Shane Cooper with the job of securing an Oxford final appearance for the first time. Up against James Freemantle and Matt White the Oxon boys were behind up until 14 ends but dug in to go into the last end, one up. A single dropped meant the whole tie would be decided on an extra end which went Surrey’s way meaning for the third year running Oxon would play Middlesex in the third/fourth play-off. Bucks, making their first appearance in the competition beat Middx 4-1 to set up the final with Surrey.

Fielding an unchanged eleven, Oxfordshire went one down against Middx in the afternoon after Jamie Wilkinson lost by two to Kai Matthews in a two wood game which went the full 21 ends. Wins in all of the other disciplines saw the day finish positively although it was in everyone’s mind that with a fraction of fortune it could have been the final they were contesting.

The final was another close affair with Surrey taking the honours with wins in the 2 wood, 4 wood and triples

All in all this was another great day of bowls played in the best spirit of the game and a fitting way for Wilkinson and Muir, along with Dan Morris and Matt White of Surrey to finish their junior careers.

Oxon Team:

2 wood Singles: Jamie Wilkinson, Banbury Central

4 wood Singles: George Schwab, Banbury Borough

Pairs: Sam Watts, Watlington & Shane Cooper, Banbury Central

Triples: Ben Dickson, Woodstock; Dan Swanson, Bicester & Sam Muir, Carterton

Fours: Brandon King, Bicester; Bradley Squires, West Witney; Orren Bennett, Chadlington & Lee Wilkinson, Banbury Central

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